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The Mariners are oozing veteran presence

Jan 24, 2013, 11:30 AM EST

Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks Getty Images

There’s a story about Raul Ibanez in the News-Tribune. The upshot: Ibanez brings veteran presence. By the truckload.

Here’s the story’s author, after noting that Ibanez is still supposed to contribute with his bat:

But, yes, Ibañez’s most substantial gift could be the gab he brings to a clubhouse craving for older players able and willing to share insights with those still learning the nuances of a frustrating game.

“First thing that popped into my mind when we signed Raul was remembering when I was in the lower ranks of the minor leagues and he was still a Mariner. Every spring training he’d come over and talk to us for a few hours. The stories he told us … he’s been through it all. People told him he’d never play in the big leagues, and 17 years later, he’s proven all the doubters wrong. He brings a lot of life stories to our team and a phenomenal veteran presence.”

Jack Z, who noted that the team lacked veteran presence before:

“You’ve got a young kid sitting in the on-deck circle,” Zduriencik said, “and someone like Raul Ibañez gets up and puts his arm around the kid and says, ‘I’ve been in this situation before.’ That’s a whole lot different than coming from the hitting coach, or the manager.”

Eric Wedge:

“You can make an argument,” Wedge continued, “that Raul Ibañez is as good as anybody in the game in regard to performing and playing. That’s why you sign him, to be a baseball player.

Well, you could make that argument. It’d just be a bad one. He goes on:

But beyond that, there are the intangibles he brings as a guy who has been part of championship clubs and really done everything in the game.”

That’s all great. And yes, I appreciate that teams value this stuff way more than fans and analysts do. But Ibanez is either going to mash righties or he won’t. If he doesn’t, his veteran presence will be meaningless — maybe Jason Bay or Kendrys Morales can provide some in his stead — and his next job in baseball will be as a coach.

If you don’t believe me, ask the last guy who the Mariners brought in to be “veteran presence” after his productive years were over.

  1. easports82 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Now if they could just start oozing some wins, I’d have better justification to lay down cash for the MLB.TV subscription to watch half-a-game.

  2. danaking - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    The real value of a “veteran clubhouse presence” is probably somewhere between none and what some teams think it is. If the guy can’t play anymore, he’s wasted roster spot. If he can make a contribution and help young players keep their heads in the game, day in and day out, his value could exceed his stats, even though it would be hell to prove.

    There are things a player can tell a peer that will be received much differently than if a coach tells him. It happens to everyone. Would you rather have a friend point something out to you (“you’re giving away at bats. Try this when you go up and the game seems out of reach.”) or a coach who may seem more threatening.

    We’ve all seen teams who seem to mature, or learn how to win. Often it’s because younger players mature into their true abilities. What we can;t measure is how often that is aided by having an older player–even one who can’t play 150 games a year anymore–work informally with him on things other than technique. 90% of this game s half mental, you know.

  3. bankboy2012 - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Ah, veteran presence, the polite way of saying “that guy’s old”.

  4. historiophiliac - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Gross.

  5. kiwicricket - Jan 24, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    Sadly, the Mariners veterans are more likely to be oozing…

  6. Gobias Industries - Jan 24, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    Why are guys like Ibanez praised for this behavior? Whenever I try to be a veteran presence around the office by chatting up the young ladies and putting my arm around them like Ibanez does with the kids in the on-deck circle, I get reported to HR and have to spend my Saturdays in sexual harassment training courses. Doesn’t seem very fair.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      Maybe you’ll get farther with the boys.

    • kiwicricket - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Try showering with them instead?

  7. smoochytherhino - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    I know the Yanks have more than their share of old players and more than their share of lefties but he’ll be missed. He plays extraordinarily hard for his age and the big-time hits he came up with last year at the end of the season and especially during the playoffs were beyond incredible.

    • pisano - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      smoochy…. I do agree, but if you noticed the BA was dropping as the season wore on, my point is the Yankees didn’t think he would be as effective at a year older, but I do wish him all the best, and thank him for a job well done .

      • smoochytherhino - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

        Definitely true pisano but he played too much last year due to injuries to Gardner and others. Again, I understand letting him go because he’s a lefty and the team is way lefty heavy. But I do think he was a perfect fit in Yankee stadium and playing 3 days a week and coming off the bench to pinch hit the other 3 days, he is extremely valuable.

        As much as NY was ready to move on I think it’s just as likely he wanted to go back to Seattle. He’s got a history there and he might want to retire a Mariner.

        Bottom line, while you’re correct, it’s not easy to replace that kind of hitting in big situations off the bench.

    • Old Gator - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:24 PM

      Smoochy – yeah, and you gotta watch out for those charities of theirs too. They’re very tough.

  8. jarathen - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    I think the other players would much more treasure veteran presents. Like a new iPhone.

  9. cur68 - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    I like this acquisition for the Mariners for a bunch of different reasons. In no particular order of importance some of them are:

    1)His name is “Raúl Javier Ibañez”. I like all the squiggles and stuff in that name.
    2)His name sounds awesome on an echoing PA.
    3)He has to be one of the calmest guys in all baseball. Really level headed and cool. Every team needs someone like that.
    4)He gives great interviews. Not the “Crash Davis” kind either. He actually talks in non-cliché and can be pretty amusing.
    5)He’s still productive and if used properly can come up with key hits.
    6)When he homers you can yell “RaaaaaaaUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLL”. Can’t yell that enough, if you ask me.
    7)His fielding is…never mind
    8)Some of that sage, baseball advice is going to be “this guy will throw you a breaking ball in the dirt if he gets ahead right away. Watch for that if you’re 0-1″. What young hitter couldn’t use that advice?

    Good luck on the Mariners, Raul. Lookin’ forward to seeing you play another season. So’s my dog. She howls whenever I go into a protracted “RaaaaaaaUUUUUUUUUUUULLLLLLL”.

  10. Old Gator - Jan 24, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    I’ve always found that you can keep VETERAN PRESENCE from oozing with sterile gauze pads, a schmear of Boylene drawing salve, and by keeping the spawrtsrighters and announcers locked up in the press box until well after the last of them have showered and dressed and gone home.

  11. mmason0071 - Jan 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Does Jack Z really think “veteran presence” will help Smoak, Montero, Saunders and Ackley hit a slider, help Brendan Ryan hit anything, and make up for having only two starting pitchers, no catchers (really, look at the roster) and no leadoff hitter. Unless something really extraordinary happens in spring training this is a very unbalanced roster, with old hitters who can’t play decently in the field and good young defensive players who can’t break .200.

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